If you can remember standing in line, camping – rain or shine and raffles as the only option to purchase a release, today’s online space could feel like an assault of assortments.
But unlimited shoe streams and a buffet of sneaker feeds is what we all wanted – right? Answers vary but most of us agree that things have changed. Blink and you’ll catch some of the differences – blink too hard and you won’t recognize any of it. Take for example Jordan Brand’s subtle swing towards women and upper end fashion.
WMNS AIR JORDAN I HIGH “ZIP”
Brand “Supreme” has a special place among those who can recall the Supreme Foamposite. Not just the shoe but also the event that turned collaboration into a major fashion affair. Jordan fever was not new but Supreme’s Foamposite release was closer to epidemic levels. Since then, Nike has carefully aligned itself with fashion – particularly edgy, modern, street savvy brands – using the results from each release and collaboration to test and tune their market approach like a scientist on the verge of a major breakthrough.
It’s no secret; Nike is a publicly traded company so a surprising amount of information about the business and how it operates is open to the public. CEOs of publicly traded companies also tend to give press briefings aimed at providing insights into future plans. That’s also how we know women are without question a large part of Nike’s long term strategy. But words are meaningless without action and evidence; so where’s the proof? Look no further than Jordan Brand’s “Heiress” footwear line. With a focus on fine materials, excellent color tones and virtually flawless finishes – especially compared to the larger volume general releases, Heiress models stand apart from the rest. This observation then points to an obvious question: Why? Nike is a corporation and corporations are driven by profit so when extra effort or extra anything is observed, there’s reason to ask: Why? In the case of women and Nike, the answer comes from good sense and a story that has evolved over time.
According to Nike, the Air Jordan 1 High “ZIP” is:
“Remastered with premium materials, this women’s shoe features ultra-soft leather and a bold metallic zipper for exceptional versatility with style. An Air sole unit provides great cushioning and a bright pop of red offers a dash of distinction.”
It’s an accurate discreption and at a price of $150, the offering has appeal when measured against pricier models.
Air Jordan 1 High “ZIP” – Well Positioned Against Brands Like Supreme
Women have had to fight for their rightful place and the battle rages on even in these modern times. But unlike a few decades ago, women now have power and presence in just about every major Enterprise – from business to the military to the federal government. With a footprint that wide, the economic power of women also becomes clearer. This article cannot gauge the depth of what women are still enduring but we can recognize what Nike already does. Among modern women, there is an under served market worth billions of dollars. Maybe the day will come when our corporations will be truly moral and ethical – guided by people with the strength to fight the daily battle of razor blade competition. But until then, rest assured that your money could buy their good behavior. Women have always kind of understood this and now they have a real place at Jordan’s table.
Connecting multi-billion dollar Clothing Corporations to celebrated fashion brands makes sense and creates fantastic marketing buzz for all collaborators. However, if the goal is billions of dollars, collaborations alone are not enough. High end fashion labels don’t typically produce hundreds of thousands of anything, which also makes affordable pricing a real challenge. So how can Nike bridge the gap? By using what they do well and borrowing the rest until the heat burns so brightly, the blaze is impossible to miss.
One of the challenges Jordan Brand has wrestled with comes from the strong demand by a male dominant customer for historically accurate releases. The market force behind MJ’s storied shoe line has been Michael Jordan’s on-court achievements. While this is fantastic for enthusiasts, in a world where social media is seen by many as a full reflection of life itself, Michael Jordan’s virtual non-existence leaves a wide gap. One that Adidas and others are happy to fill. Women on the other hand have had to adapt in a world of male centric heroes and while many can appreciate a retro like the next guy, there should be some real appeal to finally having a piece of the Jordan Brand that is genuinely geared toward a female perspective.
The women’s line also shows a departure from the more recognizable Nike/Jordan Brand conservative approach. In general, Nike has certainly been moving aggressively – experimenting with new designs, colors and technologies. But Jordan Brand has been far more careful – opting to hold the line on the legacy while deferring risks toward newer, less celebrated models.
Good design is easy to take for granted and in reality Tinker Hatfield has literally created multiple masterpieces. Taking a clean sheet of paper – empty, blank, nothing and creating something via a series of pencil strokes is a tremendous feat. This is not copying or drawing. This is creation. Then the creation has to be liked by many –regardless of culture, creed, race or sex. Small feet, big feet, perfect feet – all feet. To mess with something that precise is dangerous and potentially tragic but not impossible for those who possess the immeasurable skill. Enter KAWS, Supreme and Virgil Abloh. The latter seems to be the dynamo behind the ZIP with Off-White centric styling blending seamlessly with Tinker timelessness.
Nike intends to be in business for a very long time. This means that they will continue to calculate wins and losses. As customers, it’s hard to translate what we want so it’s their job to figure it out. With men wanting more but holding the retro line pretty firmly (exception – Seasonal Jordan 11 releases), the action will be where the women are and once those forces are truly understood and dialed in, we will all be better for it.
This article is a personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of Sole Protector® LLC, it’s owners, partners or subsidiaries.
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